AC Certification and Certificate Program Information

A certificate program in air conditioning can often provide enough training to prepare individuals for entry-level employment in the field. In these programs, students learn to use and operate the potentially harmful refrigerants used in air conditioning systems.

Essential Information

Air conditioning (AC) technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining air conditioning and refrigeration units. Prospective AC technicians who will work with refrigerants must be certified through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are EPA-approved training providers across the country who offer certification preparation programs and on-site certification exams as well.

  • Program Levels in Air Conditioning: AC Certificate. AC certification program.
  • Prerequisites (AC Certificate): High school diploma or GED. Previous coursework in math and reading.
  • Prerequisites (AC Certification Program): Certificate program or degree in AC or related field.
  • Experiential Learning: Workshops incorporating hands-on learning. Apprenticeships.

AC Certificate and Certification Programs

An AC certificate program teaches students to control indoor environments and provide comfortable conditions in an energy-efficient manner. Students develop in-depth technical knowledge and proficiency in AC systems. Opportunities are also available for those who want to learn the scientific and practical applications of system design, which enhances students' capabilities in this field.

The program coursework offers an understanding of a variety of engineering fundamentals and principles. Classes continue to focus on the emerging issues facing the AC industry regarding emissions and energy efficiency. Courses in this program include:

  • AC system design
  • AC control and energy management
  • AC and green buildings
  • Facilities management: systems and technology
  • Codes and ordinances
  • Tools and service techniques

The EPA requires that all technicians be certified before performing installations, maintenance, repairs, or service of any appliances containing refrigerant chemicals. There are four types of certification:

  • Type I - servicing small appliances
  • Type II - servicing high and very high-pressure appliances
  • Type III - servicing low pressure appliances
  • Universal - servicing all appliances

To obtain certification at any of these levels, applicants must pass an exam that focuses on EPA regulations and recycling procedures, as well as sector-specific questions.

Those enrolled in a certification program are educated on various AC systems and become familiar with AC equipment. Candidates also learn the proper safety practices and procedures related to AC systems and competency in refrigerant handling. Topics in a certification program include:

  • EPA rules and regulations
  • Leak detection
  • Refrigerant oils
  • DOT cylinders
  • Recycling
  • Servicing small appliances

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities among all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, including AC techs, are expected to increase 21% between 2012 and 2022. The median annual salary earned by these HVAC workers was estimated at $44,630 by the BLS in May 2014.

Continuing Education

After completing a certificate program, graduates may choose to continue their education with an associate's degree in this field. An associate's degree program offers additional training in the service and repair of AC systems. Business classes are also available within this program for those interested in starting their own business.

Completing a degree program may offer promotional opportunities and increased pay with an employer. A bachelor's degree in AC engineering offers advanced education in the design and troubleshooting of AC systems. Students in this program focus on making AC systems more effective and energy efficient, while implementing new technology into homes and buildings.

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